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Spoilt Rotten: The toxic cult of sentimentality Paperback – 11 Aug 2011

52 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Gibson Square Books Ltd; Paperback edition (11 Aug. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906142254
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906142254
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 144,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

- 'Not since Christopher Hitchen s assault on Mother Theresa have so many sacred cows been slaughtered in such a slim volume.' Jonathan Sumption, Spectator - 'One of our most celebrated essayists.' Toby Young, Mail on Sunday - '[A] cultural highlight.' Observer - 'Surgical demolition.' Guardian - 'Excellent... We have created an unprecedentedly egocentric generation, where giving in to your emotions is a human right.' Neil Hamilton Sunday Express - 'Witty, always punchy and sometimes rapier-like.' Tom Adair, Scotsman - 'Excellent.' Toby Young, telegraph.co.uk - 'This is what makes sentimentality so much worse.' Noel Malcolm page review, Sunday Telegraph - 'Entertaining... really good stories.' Nigel Burke, Express - 'Inimitable' Theodore Dalrymple. Specator.co.uk - Telegraph Bookshop No 1 Bestseller - Amazon Top 5 Modern Culture Bestseller --1

Review

'Excellent' Toby Young, Daily Telegraph --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 70 people found the following review helpful By David Finn on 15 Aug. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is Dalrymple's criticism of the effects of overt public displays of emotion.It shows how sentimentality has become a substitute for thinking & also coercive which has a damaging impact on society. How you feel about an issue being more important that being erudite about it. While Dalrymple does not expect us to behave as stoics, he notes how public sentimentality can become coercive i.e Princess Diana's death and how this coercion can result in threats of violence if people do not conform. He notes how fortitude, once regarded as a virtue now is a sign of callousness. Dalrymple goes through different events in the book e.g Madeline McCann disapearance & disects the media & the publics reaction to these events. Dalrymple regards a lot of these displays of emotion as more for the selfish benefit of the person who displays them - being emotional showing that you are a caring/ sharing person. He believes that sentimentality is the midwife to violence. Lack of control over our emotions can be used as an excuse for violence. This book is well worth a read & causes you to be skeptical if you are not already of sentimentality in public.Its also a decent price for a good book
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72 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Pollock on 12 July 2010
Format: Hardcover
The marketing director who is responsible for the misbegotten title and ghastly cover picture of this book has much to answer for. Both title and cover have nothing to do with the book's content. The lettering of the title is a typographer's nightmare, each letter individually printed on a card and "pasted" like a ransom note. There were many copyediting errors in the printing that I received in June, though these may (or may not) have been since corrected - the book was withdrawn and later reposted on Amazon with a July pub date. That said, I have found much insight in Dalrymple's essays on the excess sentimentality in British culture - and I can attest in American as well. He uses the word sentimentality when I think of the phenomenon as a public display of one's compassion. He nails it when he identifies the sentimentality as outward posturing. (In my experience, while everyone must give lip service to sentimental righthink, this is usually a figleaf strictly for public consumption.) Dalrymple's examples are always interesting, from victimology to aid to Africa. In the U.S. the current word is "caring", with the implicit charge that if you do not endorse "caring" social policies, you are outside the moral pale, exiled from the warm golden sphere of kind, right-thinking people. Argument by intimidation. This book has given me much to think about. There is a great moral message in Dalrymple. He is well read, and he has a rare gift for clear analysis. Essentially his talent is for taking what were cardinal virtues in an earlier century that have been abandoned for their opposite, and stripping away the accretion of falsehood and cant to reveal a clear rationale for returning to the earlier ethos.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D. Lye on 16 Sept. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As ever, Theodore Dalrymple swims energetically against the tide of ignorance, instant celebrity and sentimentality in modern life. His dissection of the media reporting of the McCanns and the Peter Falconio case is particularly trenchant. As ever, he takes his argument a bit further than it can sustainably go. But he's a welcome and never dull dissenting voice.
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52 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Bezdechi on 18 Aug. 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book on a very important subject. Most people are unaware of the all-pervasive nature of sentimentality in the modern world -- because it is so all-pervasive. It is also insidious and dangerous and allied to many kinds of evil, as Dalrymple demonstrates.

It is difficult to define sentimentality. One could say it is insistence that one's feelings must be beautiful, and that this matters above all else. So, compassion for a large number of people one knows nothing about -- 'the poor' , say-- is very beautiful, and gives one a warm glow of self-satisfaction. The fact that these feelings have no use for 'the poor', and are indeed only of use for making me feel good about myself, is irrelevant to the sentimentalist. It is not the truth of his thoughts that matter, but the beauty of his feelings. Sentimentalists tend to be utterly ruthless and unscrupulous. They are as dishonest and manipulative with others as they are with their own all-important feelings.

That is only a starting point, of course. There is so much to say on the subject.

One very interesting question, which I wish Dalrymple had said more about, is the historical context. Is there much more sentimentality than there was, say, in Shakespeare's time (an author entirely untinged with sentimentality) and if so why? One reason is the decline in Christianity. Dalrymple is not a believer but the doctrine of Original Sin certainly kept one is a state of healthy distrust of one's feelings, although of course that could turn into unhealthy self-flagellation. Second, the rise of the mass media, and films and pop videos which convey ultra-simple emotional instant gratificaton. Third, the rise of overall wealth and comfort certainly has something to do with it.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Caroline Young on 6 July 2010
Format: Hardcover
I had heard of but never yet read a book by this writer. This book is a good, sharp read, very amusing and almost like Orwell in how the writer takes something that seems obviously correct and then shows you how very wrong it is (a liberal, like me, will have to agree through gritted teeth). His experiences with people from inner-city Birmingham (and its prison) are really what makes it genuinely fascinating. The description, for example, of a reading inmate saying about a word 'I don't know that one' as if it is an exotic creature is both funny and indicative of the mess our education system is in. There is too much waffle by everyone, and too little being done on the basics...
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